Just like last year’s, this year’s Easter holiday will be unique.
Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It starts on Good Friday, into the weekend and ending on Easter Monday. The four-day weekend is marked in prayer and fellowshipping while for others it is a time to travel to meet friends and relatives.
Just like last year, Zimbabweans will celebrate the holiday under lockdown.
We eased a bit ahead of Christmas last year, the other widely-celebrated Christian holiday in the country. Borders were reopened, resulting in thousands of people travelling in and out of the country. Many actually hosted parties. The result was the second wave of Covid-19 that hit us from late December into February. It shook us all when infections and fatalities rose to record highs.
The Government does not want to risk a third wave so President Mnangagwa said Tuesday that visitors to the country are mandated to produce Covid-19-free certificates not older than 48 hours.
Bars will remain shut while the large church gatherings we normally associate with Easter will be banned, wih only small meetings of not more than 50 permissible. Last year boarders celebrated Easter at home as by that time, the Government had already locked down the country, kids returning home from school. This year, they will be at school.
He said: “To safeguard our nation, we need to take some additional measures to avoid a third wave of the pandemic which is already attacking some nations of the world. For the duration of the Easter holidays, travellers coming into the country from neighbouring states are supposed to undergo valid Covid-19 PCR tests which are not more than 48 hours from the time of their departure from Zimbabwe. School learners who are in boarding schools will not be permitted to travel back home. Equally, no parent will travel to concerned schools for purposes of visits.
“All gatherings, including church services, funerals and weddings will remain limited to not more than 50 people. The general public is encouraged to defer unnecessary travel outside localities of residence.”
The Government moved timeously to put the people in the picture of what must be done as the country continues to fight Covid-19.
Christians wanted to know if they would be allowed to go for Easter camps as they often do over the holiday. Some parents and guardians were asking if they would be allowed to collect their kids from boarding school, celebrate Easter together and get them back to school on Easter Monday.
Churches, which have been delivering virtual sermons since the first lockdown in March last year, will continue on that path.
Leaders of churches we spoke to Tuesday recognised the danger of congregating in large numbers amid Covid-19 so had, before the President’s announcement, taken decisions not to. They took very good decisions.
With respect to travellers from abroad, we feel that the condition that they produce Covid-19-free certificates not older than 48 hours on arriving in the country will keep the numbers at a manageable level.
We think that no one wants to travel unnecessarily during this time; no Christian wants to be among a congregation of thousands during this time. This is not the time for that yet with the pandemic still a challenge.
What we would encourage our people to do, instead of travelling far and wide, is for them to step forward and get vaccinated against Covid-19. The country has received 1, 635 million doses of vaccines over the past few weeks. About 69 700 people had been inoculated countrywide by Monday.
That turnout is not pleasing but we are confident that the hesitant must be bolder now since no-one among the 69 700 who had been vaccinated by Monday has been reported to have developed complications. If so many have been jabbed and remain healthy, surely there is no need for anyone to be fearful of a different, negative response to a vaccine.